Today Paris, tomorrow the world...

A new generation of artists, musicians and designers is forging a fresh creativity that owes little to French tradition - or to Swinging London. Julie Street meets the nouveau-chic market leaders


Thirty-year-old director of La Haine, the controversial cult film about violence and police oppression in the Paris suburbs, which won rave reviews and an award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995. Dubbed the "French cousin of Spike Lee", he has also proved his talent on the other side of the camera, acting in several French films, including his first film, Metisse (purely as an economy measure, he claims) and his new movie Assassin(s).

"Paris is amazingly cosmopolitan. There's Arab culture, African culture, Jewish culture, and American culture has become part of Parisian life now, too. A lot of people are up in arms about the increasing Americanisation of France, but you have to be open to cultural fusion. I've been eating Big Macs and drinking Coca Cola since I was five years old and I can tell you I prefer a good hamburger to a stale baguette sandwich."


The stunning feathered headpiece Halley created for Alexander McQueen's show has become famous in its own right, and Halley's intricately worked creations capture the spirit of Paris's fashion avant-garde. Fans include Hussein Chalayan, Thierry Mugler, Karl Lagerfeld and David Bowie, who wore one of Halley's sculpted feather earrings on his latest tour.

"For me, Paris is an absolute hotbed of creative talent. There's a tradition of craftsmanship here that exists nowhere else in the world and I think young people are tapping into that right now. More and more people are setting themselves up as designers and artisans, rediscovering old skills and using them to create exciting modern works."


Renowned for his innovative remixes of Bjork hits and his spectacular soundtracks for Gaultier and Lagerfeld fashion shows, Dimitri, 33, is currently taking the music scene by storm with his easy listening/ house album, Sacrebleu. He began as a club DJ before landing a job on Paris FM's hottest dance station, NRJ.

"There's a whole new generation of French musicians who grew up listening to house and dance music, rather than traditional rock or French chanson, and this has helped them develop a brand new sound. There's a great buzz of creativity and tremendous energy around at the moment, fused with a real desire to show the world that French musicians have got something to offer. For so long, French music had such a bad reputation that when I used to go and buy my records in London I'd never admit I was a French DJ, because people would just fall around laughing. It was like, 'Oh, there's really a music scene in France, is there?' Now, following the success of groups such as St Germain and Daft Punk, I guess we feel it's time we Froggies got our revenge!"


All in their mid-twenties, the trio are typical of the new generation of young designers springing up in Paris. They opened their funky boutique Le Hublot in Republique last year, working on an extremely tight budget, so Le Hublot's innovative decor is created from recycling "odds and ends". The glittering ceiling, a bricolage of sculpted silver foil and the boutique walls, a glossy collage of nightclub flyers, make the perfect kitsch backdrop for the trio's street and clubwear. A Seventies sofa, piled high with leopard-skin cushions, makes Le Hublot feel more like a living room than a shop, an impression confirmed by the steady stream of people who drop in for coffee and cigarettes.

Laurent Fontaine: "I think the essence of the new scene in Paris is less about commercialism and individualism and more about pooling individual talents and forming collectives."

Sophie Bercot: "A lot of young designers are teaming up with photographers, stylists, even furniture designers and looking at how they can work together. There's definitely a creative buzz in Paris right now."

Kristoff Le Belhomme: "The French traditionally dress in a rather boring, conservative way, the last thing they want is to wear something which will make them stand out in a crowd. When I used to go stomping down the street in platform heels I was told it was open provocation. But things are slowly starting to change. There's been a huge drag scene in Paris over the past few years which has encouraged people to dress a bit more outrageously."


Not since Francoise Sagan exploded onto the literary scene in the Fifties with Bonjour Tristesse has so much excitement been generated by a young, French, female novelist. Truismes, a cult modern fable about a beautician who turns into a pig, has rocketed up the bestseller list, and Darrieussecq, 28, is now an international literary phenomenon. Jean-Luc Godard has bought the film rights to the novel and it has been translated into Italian, German and English. Faber and Faber publish it in Britain next week as Pig Tales: A Novel Of Lust And Transformation.

"I think people who go round saying the French literary scene is dead don't know what the hell they're talking about. The Paris scene is thriving right now. There's a wealth of creative writers, especially women, who've got interesting things to say. I think we're living in a particularly exciting period in the run- up to the year 2000 and, don't worry, Paris is very much alive and kicking."

There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

    £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: EWI / IWI Installer

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'